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Peacebuilding and Education - DR Congo

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been engulfed in protracted conflicts for decades. Conflicts fueled by poor governance, regional warfare and illicit trade in natural resources have resulted in mass-scale war-related deaths, mutilations, and sexual abuses. In a country with a wealth of natural resources, the population is one of the poorest in the world.  To boost DRC’s development, the international community has injected unprecedented aid in relief and program developments notably in protection of civilians and peacebuilding, as well as education. 

The influence of education, whether at school or at home, on children’s development and how youth perceive, react and respond to conflicts is well-documented. However, there is little research available in DRC providing a comprehensive analysis of education and peacebuilding. This study aims to fill that gap. It was undertaken in two school districts - Kalemie and in Mbandaka – to examine social cohesion, conflict and dimensions of peacebuilding in relation to education experiences and participation in programs supported by UNICEF. These programs sought to 1) increase inclusion of education into peacebuilding and conflict reduction policies, analyses and implementation; 2) increase institutional capacities to supply conflict-sensitive education; 3) increase the capacities of children, parents, teachers and other duty bearers to prevent, reduce and cope with conflict and promote peace; 4) increase access to quality and relevant conflict-sensitive education that contributes to peace.

To achieve the study objectives an in-person survey with 2,577 randomly selected individuals was implemented in the Kalemie and Mbandaka areas with the following components:

  1. A survey among 6th grade students in UNICEF targeted and non-targeted schools (12 – 17 years old)
  2. A survey of the parents or guardians of the selected 6th grade students in UNICEF targeted and non-targeted schools.
  3. A survey among youth, including youth participating in adolescents’ clubs (clubs ADODEV) and youth in the community of the established ADODEV clubs but who were not members of the youth clubs (12-17 years old).
  4. Interviews of teachers in targeted and non-targeted PBEA schools.

Key findings indicate some positive results of the UNICEF programs and avenues for improvement. Schools supported by the programs tended to have their students engaging in more positive conflict resolution and showed more positive social outcomes (cohesion, interpersonal relations). However, a large number of participants knew little about the program, especially among youth.

Vinck P, Pham PN, Balthazard M (2016). Peace First: Population-Based Survey on Peace and Education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. UNICEF, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. (document coming soon)